Gardens Forever – Joseph and Catherine Land
Our gardening philosophy is very simple. Grow it, eat it. No transporting, no engines, food that gives more energy than has been used to produce it, an “energy-positive” system essential to any notion of sustainability, food that is tasty, non-toxic and nutritious.
The key responsibility for gardeners is caring for the soil. Good crops and good seeds follow naturally if the soil is healthy. We all know this of course and are constantly seeking better ways to achieve it.
We have two ways of gardening here. The small garden, 1/2 acre, is the more intensive. We collect seaweed, horse and cow manure and weeds for compost and grass for mulch. All plant material not eaten is returned to the soil as compost or mulch. Beds are dug over every second or third crop and compost added.. About 1/2 the area grows lupins in Winter, and 1/10th grows mustard in Summer for green manure. We have a high rainfall and so the more organic matter in the soil the less leaching there is. We haven’t really addressed the lack or loss of nutrients other than encouraging subsoiling plants dock and some small trees.
The bigger garden, 3 acres, follows a 4 year cropping / 2 year fallow rotation. The areas cropped grow lupins over Winter which are ploughed in by horse in Spring except one section saved for seed and then to become fallow. The crops, maize, pumpkin, kumara, potatoes, sweetcorn, are planted in rows 30 inches apart which allows the horse to pull a scarifier between them for weeding. Cows and horses graze the fallow. Apart from lime once every 7 or 8 years there is no other input to the soil. Ideally if we had enough land I would prefer a 4 year cropping / 4 year fallow rotation to ensure enough nutrient and mineral return to the soil via the animal manure and uninterrupted microbial activity.
Kay and Crew
My life is a journey towards understanding the “patterns of nature” and working with them as I can.
My gardens whether for seed or food are part of that journey. I’m learning to grow highly mineralised, microbially active soils that will produce high Brix food… in the most sustainable and simple way possible.
My teachers and mentors right now are Grant Paton, Ardern Anderson, AF Beddoe (Nourishment Home Grown) and Harold Willis (Principles of Natural Farming)…
We have two gardens, the smaller more intensively gardened one is totally managed by hand 500sq m, using Bio-Intensive methods which includes making sure 60% of the garden over the period of the whole year is growing carbon crops.We make many cubic metres of aerobic compost with our carbon crops (corn stalks, lupins, etc. etc.), manure, weeds, crushed shells, fish waste and seaweed, and we will add various forms of rock phosphate and lime until we achieve high Brix status… we are constantly measuring. At that point we will reduce inputs to a level that we can maintain sustainably from our local Bioregion.
Our larger garden is gardened using a tractor, discs and a rota-tiller. Carbon crops are disced into the soil in Autumn and Spring, Rock Phosphate and then lime are applied and left for two weeks to bond then, after discing again and a further two weeks we rota-till before planting.
We apply foliar sprays if it brings up the Brix of the crops. As our Brix levels rise, the higher quality inputs our own manures and weeds and carbon crops become and the system becomes more and more sustainable.
I’m loving the learning… enjoy the seeds!